Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the busiest shopping and online shopping weekend of the year for the holiday season. According to TransUnion’s 2019 Holiday Retail Fraud Survey, approximately 75 percent of Americans plan to do nearly half of their shopping online this year. While this creates convenience and the bonus of avoiding hectic, long lines, it also puts shoppers at risk for online scams. Here is a guide to protecting yourself from scams this holiday seasoning.
Be cautious with emails:
Avoid clicking on links from emails. There are many fake emails and sites that are disguised as the real site. Emails sent by hackers and scammers are called phishing. This is a common way for them to access your credit card information or identity. Avoid this by navigating to the website by typing in the web address directly into your browser rather than clicking on the email.
Don’t open attachments with special offers:
In the same way, to avoid clicking on email links, avoid opening attachments from retailers. This poses the same problem that phishing does. With a valid offer, an attachment or link won’t be necessary to go to an email.
Avoid pop-ups and ads:
Malware, viruses and scams can follow you around the internet via pop-ups and advertisements, called malvertising. These ads can seek out your information and can also invest your device with harmful programming. This malware can lock your computer or files and forces you to pay in order to get access back.
Beware of e-skimmers:
E-skimming is a new scam where fraudsters are skimming credit card information during online checkouts. Use trusted sources such as PayPal, Venmo and Amazon to avoid this information breach.
Use your credit cards:
Whenever possible, use a credit card instead of a debit card for online shopping. If fraudulent charges are made on a debit card, it’s not always possible to get a refund. Whereas, most credit card issuers have protection against fraudulent charges.
If you are shopping in person, use your credit card or take out cash. Avoid suspicious-looking ATMs that appear tampered with, it could mean that someone installed a card-skimming machine.
Avoid public Wi-Fi shopping:
Use a Wi-Fi connection that you are sure is secure and private. Public Wi-Fi is typically insecure, allowing information to be vulnerable to cybercriminals. In the case of requiring a public connection, KnowBe4 recommends using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which will encrypt your browsing history and activity.
Watch out for free offers:
During the holiday season, there is an outburst of survey and gift card scams.
These scams may ask for your credit card information so they “can pay you,” thus exposing your information to scammers.
Have a variety of passwords:
According to PCI Pal, 47 percent of Americans use the same password multiple times. Cyber thieves can use a stolen password from one account and will have access to multiple other accounts if the password is the same, exposing your information from multiple accounts. KnowBe4 recommends using a password manager to create “hard-to-break” passwords.
Watch your bank accounts like a hawk:
Keep a close eye on bank accounts this holiday season so if there is a suspicious activity it can be caught immediately. Talk with your bank to activate services that can monitor and alert you in the case of suspicious activity.
Beware, gift card scams are on the rise:
A popular strategy is for criminals to write down the card number in the store then draining the funds before they are gifted. Carefully inspect the card of any tempering. KnowBe4 recommends only purchasing gift cards from trusted sources.